Nonprofits, 2014 is the Year of the Blog. Here’s Why You Can’t Afford to Wait Any Longer

Nonprofits, this is the year to start an amazing blog.

We can’t afford to wait any longer—and today, more than ever, a blog is simply one of the best investments your organization can make.

Donors give us gifts. It’s time to give one back. And blogging is the ultimate selfish gift—it benefits us as much as our readers.

But don’t take my word for it. Read on.

How Nonprofit Blogging Can Help You Make a Huge Impact, Today

Let’s say your nonprofit builds wells in Africa.

Your hope: that your small but substantial part in your organization translates into a big impact in the world, right?

To get more specific, your goal as an individual is probably either A) raising more money for your nonprofit, or B) developing awesome programs.

But after that, there are so many hoops to jump through to create real change. We do awesome work, but making change is hard when you’re so disconnected.

Think about it. After you create a program or raise money, you’ve got to consider all the other factors:

  • Figuring out distribution: Take your program to the next level via outreach and connection. Get the thing you made to the other side of the globe, or at least outside of your immediate community.
  • Once you’ve connected with a potential community, you hope that your aid will get to the people who need it most. The rural communities with unsafe water. Who need education on sanitary drinking practices. Those who are impoverished.
  • You hope that those folks will accept your aid as a gift, not an intrusion.
  • You hope you’ll avoid disrupting the positive forces in the local economy.
  • You hope that the aid won’t be intercepted (and squandered) by local governments without the capacity or motivation to distribute the aid properly.
  • That your wells won’t fall into disrepair after a year with no one who has the expertise nearby to fix them.

And that’s just a start! Whew. I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. Nonprofit work is hard.

There’s a ton of risk. But the biggest frustration is a sense of being disconnected from the people we serve. Not knowing what or who is being affected and in what way. Just look at all those roadblocks!

But what if you could instantly connect? What if there was a way you could make a difference immediately? A difference that grows and affects more and more people over time, all while helping the bottom line, today?

You could start a blog.

Make This the Year of the Blog

Like great thank-you notes for your donors, a good blog is a gift that leaves the giver better than when they started.

Blogging is a gift. It’s free. Anyone can stop by and read.

That’s probably why you aren’t doing it. “Where’s the ROI??” some ask, quite reasonably.

But blogging is the ultimate selfish gift. It’s as big a gift for YOU as it is for your donors.

Think of it this way: you already have a captive audience of hundreds, thousands or (if you’re lucky) tens of thousands of donors who have indicated interest in your organization.

All donors divide into these three kinds of donors:

Donor #1: The True Believer

biggest-fans-donor

“So. Friggin. Excited! I LOVE GALAS!”

Who They Are: Of your donors, a certain percentage just gets it. They are the True Believers: your tribe, passionate people who volunteeer, donate regularly, tell their friends about you and read books and watch documentaries relevant to the cause. They already drink your delicious, life-giving Kool-Aid.

Why Blogging for Them Makes Life Awesome for You: These folks will read everything you write. The gift of blogging means so much to them. And it’s a kind of insurance for you: trade a few hours for the ability to retain the LIFEBLOOD of your organization. These people tell all their friends about you, creating more of all three levels of donors we’re talking about, multiplying your impact and funding. And the True Believers will share all your blog posts on social media with their whole network. Slam dunk!

Donor #2: The Casual Fan

casual-fan

“Yeah, bro — just donated to a sick cause. Totes massive impact.”

Who They Are: The Casual Fans are the donors who make once-a-year, irregular donations or are casual fans of you. They might give when you ask, and your cause is something they are happy to chat about at a cocktail party, but isn’t a cornerstone of their identity—even if giving to you makes them happy.

Why Blogging for Them Makes Life Awesome for You: Your blog is a gift to the Casual Fans because they’ll have a better understanding of why they are awesome for giving to you, and a better supply of party anecdotes for when your cause comes up. They’ll love you and the blog for both of these reasons. But more importantly, you will slowly and deviously convert them into cause-loving, Kool-Aid drinking True Believers, which is FANTASTIC because Casual Fans are the biggest source of unnecessary donor attrition. In other words, your blog keeps them from bleeding away from your cause, and transforms them into super donors. Booyah!

Donor #3: Reluctant Tagalongs

reluctant-donor

“Who are you again? I gave to WHAT-now?”

Who They Are: The Reluctant Tagalong is a one-time donor who couldn’t tell you from any other random nonprofit off the street. They don’t care about or understand your cause. Reluctant Tagalongs don’t remember why they gave; most likely a friend guilted them into it because they owed him one.

(P.S. It’s safe to assume that EVERYONE who visits your website for the first time starts out as a Reluctant Tagalong. They won’t click on your Donate Now button – in fact, they are waiting to click the Back button on their browser, because they have no reason to care about you. Why would they? Unless, of course, you have a great, moving and complelling blog. Hmm… about that…)

Why Blogging for Them Makes Life Awesome for You: When Reluctant Tagalongs get their first email from you about your latest blog post, they’ll say, “What the heck is this and why am I getting emails about it?” because they’ll have forgotten they donated to you. Then they might read a few lines of your interesting, moving and often entertaining blog, smile and click to another page on your website. And next time, they’ll definitely open your next email, maybe even if it’s an appeal. Congratulations! You just earned a new Casual Fan! And the folks who didn’t open your email or read the post at all weren’t going to be interested in you ever anyway, so when you think about it, there’s no downside! Heck yes!

It’s starting to look like you’d be crazy NOT to blog!

Of course, this all only works if you…

Make Sure Your New Blog Isn’t Terrible

good_nonprofit_blog_acumen_fund

Acumen’s blog is totally un-terrible and engaging. How about yours? (Click image to view)

The most important thing is that your shiny new nonprofit blog actually has to be a gift.

(If I could underline that last sentence three times, make it size 43 font and flashing red color, I totally would—except for it would look 100% like an infomercial.)

You can’t phone it in. A blog is not just your “inbound marketing strategy.” It’s not “content.” It’s a precious gift from you to your donors and anyone else who wonders onto your website.

It’s an invitation to be part of something that’s exciting, important and not for everyone. Just for those special enough to get on board.

Thankfully, making sure your blog isn’t terrible and IS a gift doesn’t take a genius. It just takes a little time and effort. Here are seven steps to a blog that isn’t terrible:

  1. Make it About Them: Don’t talk about yourself. Use the word “You,” and mercilessly delete the word “We.” It’s a gift for THEM. Talk about THEM. Your donors and supporters are amazing! Tell them!
  2. Kill Your Jargon: Don’t use any words a normal person wouldn’t use. Kill nonprofit-speak. Don’t talk about game changing innovative programs and disruption and blah blah blah. Talk about real people. Pretend you’re at a coffee shop with a friend. Read it out loud. Does it sound human? That’s what makes a blog sparkle.
  3. Tell Stories: The fastest way to be interesting, emotional and compelling is to tell real stories about real people. You don’t have to use names or disclose personal details: you can create composite people and still tell a real story. But show us and tell us a story, because abstraction is boring!
  4. Use Pictures: Pictures (and video if you can) are amazing at engaging people. There’s something about putting a face to a name and a story that just lights humans up and makes us more generous. Not stock photos. Real photos.
  5. Entertain: The biggest crime of a blog is boring the reader. Be fun!
  6. Call Them to Action: Don’t waste the opportunity to deepen your relationship. Ask them to join your email list (with a link to where they can)! Tell them they can go to a free event in their area! Let them know why volunteering for you is super fun, and what kind of folks you need! Ask them to share a story in the comments! Get them involved!
  7. Post Regularly: And by “regularly,” I mean 3-4 times a month, once a week. You’re busy. But once a week shows that you are active, involved and doing exciting work. And you’re posting not so frequently that you run out of interesting things to say.

Donors Give Us Gifts. It’s Time to Give One Back

The unselfish gift, the generous effort — it actually ends up being the best thing for us, the givers.

Selfishly, we benefit most from giving back. From practicing generosity. From learning how to talk about our cause simply, compellingly and often.

We benefit from having a group of connected followers. From the joy and sense of accomplishment and encouragement that comes when you see a small following of True Believers come and talk about something they care about—you.

We benefit the ability to test our talking points with a low-pressure audience.

And when you care for and tender and cultivate a garden, don’t be surprised that it might, one day, grow fruit. More donations. More traffic. More fans.

The blog, the gift for your donors, becomes a sign to the outside world. You’re all-in. You can be trusted.

You are real and here and have something important to say.

At the end of the day, it comes down to this:

Donors give us gifts. It’s time to give one back.

Make 2014 the year you start a remarkable blog.

Thanks for reading this blog post! I bet your donors want to read one too, but by YOU. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.

NP Hub Thanks Our Sponsors

25 responses to “Nonprofits, 2014 is the Year of the Blog. Here’s Why You Can’t Afford to Wait Any Longer”

  1. Kirsten says:

    I couldn’t agree more, blogs are a vital way to create conversation with donors and keep them up to date on how their donations are being used. Constant communication is a vital part of any business nowadays, but an especially important part of nonprofit donor management

    • Marc Koenig says:

      Agreed, Kirsten. And blogging is a great way to force yourself to really communicate, not just play lip service to communication by setting up a social media account or two. If you you set up a blog but aren’t taking the time to offer an awesome gift, it’s obvious. 😉

  2. Great post. I’ve been telling nonprofits to get a blog for the entire past year. It’s the absolute best way to create an ongoing conversation with folks that not only compels and inspires but also makes it easy for folks to stay connected to you. No one visits websites over and over. But spoon feeding is another matter, provided you’re delivering up truly tasty morsels that folks can’t resist. As with anything else, simply slapping up a blog won’t do it. There’s a right way and a wrong way. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

    • Marc Koenig says:

      What’s especially interesting to me is that even IF none of those benefits existed, the time I spend sitting and thinking hard about how to articulate the mission and how to get into my audience’s head always leads to hugely valuable insights for me. My ideas are rarely as brilliant and compelling as I THINK they are in my head – putting them on paper forces me to wrestle with that and improve.

      Thanks for stopping by, Claire (and for the work that you do) – keep fighting the good fight!

  3. […] Nonprofits, 2014 is the Year of the Blog. Here’s Why You Can’t Afford to Wait Any Longer. Just in case Steven (above) and I don’t persuade you to get a blog, here’s another bit of […]

  4. […] turn to your website. Pick a “Kevin Bacon” on your site. It could be your event calendar, your nonprofit blog, a resource library, or a registration page — anything that might be an intended destination […]

  5. […] turn to your website. Pick a “Kevin Bacon” on your site. It could be your event calendar, your nonprofit blog, a resource library, or a registration page — anything that might be an intended destination […]

  6. […] your website. Pick a “Kevin Bacon” on your site. It could be your event calendar, your nonprofit blog, a resource library, or a registration page — anything that might be an intended destination […]

  7. […] your website. Pick a “Kevin Bacon” on your site. It could be your event calendar, your nonprofit blog, a resource library, or a registration page — anything that might be an intended destination for […]

  8. Joanne Fritz says:

    Love it, Marc! Funny and useful!

  9. Laura Iancu says:

    Great article, Marc! I totally agree with you and I think we should try to understand that nonprofit blogs are special and the focus for offering thoughtful information, important for the donors is one of the best stewardship techniques available out there. Not to mention all the great ways in which you can integrate it in creative campaigns.

  10. […] – thanks to Marc Koenig of Nonprofit Hub: Nonprofits, 2014 is the Year of the Blog. Here’s Why You Can’t Afford to Wait Any Longer. You’ve got 3 kinds of donors – the True Believer, The Casual Fan, and The Reluctant Tagalongs […]

  11. […] Be a Perpetual Content Creating Machine for Your Nonprofit echoes peers, like Claire  Axelrad and Marc Koenig, that 2014 is the year of the […]

  12. […] thank donors on your blog in multiple ways, making it a great tool for donor retention. In a way, blogs are a gift to your supporters – one you can give many times throughout the year in the form of thank you videos, insider news, […]

  13. […] Be a Perpetual Content Creating Machine for Your Nonprofit echoes peers, like Claire  Axelrad and Marc Koenig, that 2014 is the year of the […]

  14. Katherine Galbreath says:

    I completely agree about assuming that anyone who visits a website is looking to click the back button, unless you engage them. I also see the huge potential in the casual fans as well, especially if you send out regular emails or add them to blog notifications. Moreover, the easiest way to create a wide fan base is to eliminate the jargon so that you can also attract the people who would otherwise never visit your site or be turned off by the words; they don’t have time to waste looking up words.

  15. […] read that 2014 is the year of the blog, especially for nonprofits. Would you agree? Feel free to leave me questions and comments, so I […]

  16. […] likely to donate. It's important to put out a quality product. Nonprofit Hub recommended  making the blog posts about the supporters. Mention how they are helping and show appreciation for their contributions […]

  17. […] Non-profit hub offered these reasons why non-profits can’t afford to wait any longer to blog […]

  18. […] hub has declared 2014 as the year of the blog – and I for one am totally on board. 2014 also marks the year I transition from blog […]

  19. […] read that 2014 is the year of the blog, especially for nonprofits. Would you agree? Feel free to leave me questions and comments, so I […]

  20. Jennifer Smiga says:

    So glad I came across your blog Mark! I work with nonprofits all the time and they rarely blog. They’re enthusiastic storytellers day in and day out but rarely record or write about their conversations. Powerful motivators who need to get blogging.

  21. […] Did you know that 70% of visitors to the average website never visit again? Done well, a blog drives traffic to you naturally… brings folks back for more… and even gets folks to share stuff you post on your blog with their own networks. It’s a hugely powerful tool for finding and engaging with people – your donors and potential supporters – and I’m not the only one who thinks so. […]

  22. Sharon Paul says:

    Really nice. As Jennifer says nonprofits are storytellers and rarely blog. I too work with a charitable trust.We too does storytelling but not blogging. This help us to find more impact s with blogging. Thank You.
    http://connect-india.org/

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